The January transfer window was far from exciting as the movement of low profile players rolled over and the untruthful speculation more unsurprising than the plot for an episode of a soap opera. Yet, one story that has surprised is the rise of the Chinese Super League. English Clubs spent £875 million this window with the Chinese spending a £116 million on players. It’s a figure that resembles the English games popularity as a footballing country but also the rise of the Chinese Super League as it aims to become a country proud of it football culture.
During the window the Chinese Super League gained some high profile football faces as it plies to showcase its determination to become a popular football country. The likes of Ramires from Chelsea, and Jackson Martinez from Atletico were the latest reinforcements in big money moves from Europe to China. With the latest news suggesting previous Liverpool target Alex Texiera could be the latest big money move. With the transfer deadline day not closed till the 28th of February in China this deal has got a while to materialise.
There has been a huge amount of investment in China with several different business accumulated a huge sum of money towards soccer schools being built to help grow the appeal of the sport as well as changes to the education system making it compulsory to play the sport in certain schools. After recent economic trouble an overhaul on the sports economy is a way forward in China. This has been thanks greatly to the general secretary of the communist party of China XI Jinping, who is a huge football fan.
Obviously China are a way of the worlds elite, and building a football infrastructure from scratch is incredibly difficult. As well as investing huge amounts it’s been reported that they are planning to take a stake in Ajax, a club renowned for their youth development. It will help popularise the appeal of the league as well as help replicate or advise future development in their own country.
Having a passion and raw talent for football has been the catalyst to many footballers backstory. In China football is popular. However it’s popular as a spectator sport, not so much as a participation sport. One main problem with the reduced amount of participation is due to the limited amount of facilities. Futsal is quite popular, but playing on full size 11 side pitches is less of occurrence due to it being such a densely populated country, there’s less room to do so.
It could be perceived that China is relying on foreign assistance in assuring success. Although they can offer players huge wages, the lifestyle is as important a factor than any in relocating. With the football culture already established in major countries like France, Italy and Spain its going to be difficult to get a major haul of players that want to move to China straight away due to the footballing lifestyle being unknown. With this in mind the money being pumped into encouraging kids to get involved in the sport would mean the league would be less reliant of big foreign names, consequently helping the sport grow.
The Chinese Super league has reached an average attendance of 21,800 just slightly less than the French and Italian league. This is just a short term reminder of the immediate rise of the Chinese Super League.